Ra'anana tightens belt as economic woes hit

In the wake of the current economic troubles, the Ra'anana city council has approved a 20-percent cut in municipal funding for sports organizations, youth movements and synagogues, reports www.local.co.il. In addition, the city is planning more restrained Independence Day celebrations this year than in previous years, and has trimmed its budget for the events to NIS 1.3 million. According to the report, the council last week approved its support budget for organizations, and decided on a blanket 20% cut for sporting and cultural groups. It has yet to decide the level of funding for welfare organizations and charities, many of which are in need of more funding than ever before to cope with increased demand for their services. Deputy Mayor and support committee member Arieh Friedman said that because of the current financial difficulties across the entire economy, the city was expecting that its income - both from property taxes and from state funding - would be lower this year, and it had to reduce its expenses accordingly. "We have prepared the whole budget in the expectation that this year will be more difficult (than last year), and our expenses need to match this," Friedman said. "Our intention is that charitable and welfare organizations will not be harmed, and that the cuts will be spread over organizations working in other fields." The committee has reportedly allocated NIS 1.8 million for the Bnei Hasharon basketball club, NIS 1 million for the Ra'anana Symphonette Orchestra, NIS 756,000 for the women's basketball club, NIS 458,000 for the women's volleyball club, NIS 120,000 for the construction of a new synagogue, NIS 100,000 for the enlargement of the Ahim synagogue, NIS 100,000 for the Bnei Akiva youth movement, NIS 91,500 for the Hadar branch of the Scouts youth movement, NIS 30,000 for the Ofek branch of the Scouts, and NIS 50,000 for the Mahanot Ha'olim youth movement. According to the report, the city is also planning trimmer Yom Ha'atzma'ut celebrations this year, with a reduced budget of NIS 1.3 million. This year, there will be one central stage in the park and another at the city's Yad Lebanim center. Mayor Nahum Hofree said the celebrations would be "more modest, but with the same holiday joy that characterizes Ra'anana." Independence Day falls on April 29.